Tribal feud threatens casino plan
Dissidents accuse tribe's leaders of stacking membership rolls to get Las Vegas-style project in North Richmond
By John Simerman
Article Launched: 12/27/2007 02:59:00 AM PST
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A long-simmering feud is boiling over in an Indian tribe that aims to build the East Bay's first Las Vegas-style casino, with a recall drive that threatens to stymie plans for a big casino in North Richmond.
A disgruntled minority of the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians has accused tribal leaders of stacking the membership rolls, unfair payouts and distorting the tribe's history to sell the casino plan to federal officials. Can you be a disgruntled majority?
The group last month completed a petition to recall tribal Chairman Don Arnold and a majority of the casino-friendly tribal council. If deemed valid, the 33 signatures would force a recall vote under the tribe's constitution.
Former tribal Chairman Les Miller sent the petition by certified mail to the head of the tribe's election board. A postal receipt shows he signed for it Nov. 14. The tribal constitution requires a vote within 30 days of receiving a recall petition, or those seats go vacant.
The deadline came and went this month with no word from tribal leaders. Last week, the tribe's spokesman said the petition was never formally submitted.
"It is not considered an official submission if it is not actually presented at a tribal council meeting," said Eric Zell. "No formal submission has been made, therefore no action is being pursued." Certified mail seems pretty formal. That's how Pechanga notified it's members that they were beginning a witch hunt on our family.
The tribe's constitution makes no mention of that rule. Zell called it a common understanding "within the various provisions of the constitution." Miller said the response was typical misdirection